A Happy 'Tail' of Dog Therapy

A Happy 'Tail' of Dog Therapy

by Kathy Green

I have blogged about the value of dog therapy before, but I read a story in today's newspaper that compelled me to write again. It is so difficult to find a happy story in the newspaper these days, and this simple story, buried in the back pages of the last section of the paper, brought a smile to my face.

Dog therapy…such a simple concept with such wonderful and powerful results. With just the wag of the tail, a therapy dog can make someone in a hospital, nursing home or special needs school feel better.

Imagine being old and alone much of the day. Then at your door arrives a "smiling", yes, "smiling" dog, tail wagging, eyes eager. The faces of these elderly just light up when the dog enters the room with its handler.

The story in the newspaper which precipitated my renewed enthusiasm to share this outstanding programme, was based on a woman with severe mental and physical handicaps. She was in her 30's when dog therapy began, and her hands had been clenched all her life. She was non-verbal but would get very excited when the dog came into her room. One day, during the dog's visit, she opened her hand to pet the dog. There was not a dry eye in the room. The power of uncomplicated, unconditional love. A moving moment.

And the influence and value does not stop there. The dog therapy program visits university and college students having trouble coping with stress, and participate in 'Paws 4 Stories' programs at libraries, where children who have trouble reading, practice by reading to dogs. It is a safe activity for them that raises their self esteem. The dogs lay there and listen whether you stumble over words or not.

So call me Pollyanna… I don't care! I get weary of the doom and gloom that is featured day after day in the media.

I love a good news story and reading of these beautiful animals, their handlers and the tender things they accomplish in our communities just makes my day!